Did they [James and Suzy] stay on good terms afterwards?
Yes, they did. She remembers him very fondly now, and she really did love him, it just didn't work, that seems to be her perspective.
Have you met her?
I still haven't met her. She lives in Ibiza. I don't get to Ibiza enough, you know? [laughs] Or ever! But I'm looking forward to meeting her, and I know she hasn't seen the film yet, so I'm anxious to see. But Ron was very clear that I wasn't to do an impression of Suzy, that wasn't the idea, because of course at first I just wanted every bit of footage of her, everything I could, I wanted to go and live with her and see if I could mimic her. If it were a biopic about Suzy Miller – Suzy Burton now – I would do that, but because this was just an element of the James story, I needed to service that story in a way that was necessary to tell what we wanted to tell.
So it was important to have the freedom to interpret her at that time in that way that we needed to. So in no way am I trying to be a perfect replica of the real Suzy. Which was different than, of course, what the boys were going through, having to really study speech patterns and mannerisms of real people, which I think they did a brilliant job at, both of them.
Did you shoot those Burton scenes? Are they likely to turn up on the DVD?
No, no. Russell Crowe was going to come and play Burton, but we never shot them.
How are you choosing your film roles? They're all very diverse and different from each other, Drinking Buddies, and Third Person, and then this, and Her…
The ultimate success for an actor is the ability to be picky, and to say no more than you say yes. So in the last two years, maybe year-and-a-half, I've had the opportunity to do that, which has been an amazing luxury. So having the chance to only work with directors who I really find interesting has been fantastic. And now it's just about working with those people, it's not about the size of the role or about how much money the film might make – it's about what I'll learn from those people.
So whether it's Ron Howard, Paul Haggis, Spike Jonze, you know, having the chance in the past couple of years just to observe them has been extraordinary. And then something like Drinking Buddies, which is an entirely different process, has been fulfilling, more than I ever could have imagined.
In an interview with Liam Neeson not too long ago he actually said that he was quite nervous working with you because he had a little bit of a crush on you. So I was wondering if the feeling was reciprocated at all?
Oh, of course, how could you not? He's extraordinary. For me Liam is always Michael Collins. He's the big friendly giant, you know, his hands are about the size of this table. He was so gentle… hopefully we'll have a chance to talk about that film [Third Person] when it comes out. But Liam is brilliant, and he's an example of one of the greatest people I've ever had the chance to work with. But I've been so lucky, I mean, I've never worked with a terrible monster. I hear of them, there's still time! But this [Rush] was an exception, everyone was just so brilliant on this film. It was great, and I only swept in for 10 days, and got to dress up in all the beautiful Gucci, and then leave. But I'm really proud to be a part of it.
Do you have a wish-list of directors you'd like to work with?
Oh yeah, yeah. Everyone from Pedro Almodovar to Woody Allen to Lynne Ramsay to Mike Leigh. I'm kind of all over the place, but, so many different people, so many, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow... lots of people.
You're engaged to Jason [Sudeikis] and you're both Hollywood stars - you seem to be escaping relatively easily and not being hounded?
Oh no, we are. Spend one afternoon with us! I think I've learned, from having the chance to work with so many of the greats, I've had the chance to observe how they deal with it, and it seems that the only way to survive is just to continue living your life and not sacrifice any of it because someone happens to be stalking you with a camera. You know, it is a weird society we live in, but I am not willing to change the way that I behave because of it. And it's fleeting.
There are people who become very paranoid and they lose their freedom and that makes me sad. I don't think it's worth it. But it is an odd time to be an actor or performer, because of the internet. It's very different than if you'd been doing this in the 70s. You know, James and Suzy might not have seemed so glamorous if you were seeing them take out the trash every morning. But because we only saw them being glamorous and beautiful then it created a different picture.
Are you and Jason planning to work together? Are you going to be a Hollywood power couple?
I would love to work with Jason. I wanted to work with him before we were together, so yeah, yeah. I mean, he's a really sharp and brilliant writer as well, so we're trying to figure out what the best thing to do together will be.
Do you know where you're actually going to tie the knot?
No, I'm not going to say! The great thing about this time for the both of us is that we're very blessed to be busy. It sounds cliché, but it's true; you wait your whole career as an actor to be too busy to get married. It's a really good problem to have. And we're doing very different types of films from each other so we get to have fun seeing both of them and occasionally overlapping.